Consumers expressed their frustration at various kitchen markets and grocery shops over the prices
The price of edible oil in the country has skyrocketed this week -- a hike which traders blame on the soaring prices in the international market.
According to the latest market price, per litre of bottled soybean oil is Tk145-153, whereas five-litre bottled soybean oil hit Tk690-728.
A five-litre bottle of Fresh soyabean oil was sold for Tk728, while the one-litre variety cost Tk153.
Almost all oil brands, including Pusti, Bashundhara, Rupchanda, and Teer have maintained similar prices for one and five-litre bottles.
On Thursday, consumers expressed their frustration at various kitchen markets and grocery shops over the prices and sought the government's strict monitoring regarding this matter.
At the Hatirpool kitchen market, consumer Zahid Uddin said: “We are like puppets. We pay as per their [traders’] whims. There is no respite from the oil price hike since Ramadan. Along with other groceries, it continues to go up.”
He also questioned why the current stock of edible oil, which was bought at earlier prices, is being sold at higher prices.
Shakil Ahmed, another consumer, echoed similar sentiments.
“From rice to oil, prices of everything are rising. Middle-class people are the main sufferers of price hikes. As the prices have soared, I bought the only amount absolutely necessary,” he said.
When the government conducts mobile courts and monitoring drives, the prices remain in control. But the syndicate of unscrupulous importers and traders are running the market, he added.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) on Wednesday said that the Covid-19 outbreak in March last year forced expenses to shoot up in the capital, like every other country, resulting in the cost of living going up by 6.88%, the highest in the last three years.
Edible oil prices also rose by an average of 8.97%. Of this, loose palm oil rose by 17.17% and loose soybean oil by 14.25%.
Montu Hossain, a retailer, said traders like him do not have any influence on price hikes.
"We only sell after buying from wholesalers. Our profit margin is not very high," he also said.
However, the market price for edible oil has been shooting up for several months, he added.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has said that the price of edible oil will not decrease in the country as it is high in the international market.
"We are monitoring the international market to determine local market prices," the minister said on Thursday while talking to the media.
"High import duty and Covid-19 pandemic are mostly behind this price hike,” he further said.
CAB Vice-President SM Nazer Hossain said that the government has all the control over the market, and yet consumers are suffering. Traders are bagging extra money as the authorities shy away from responsibility.
Strict monitoring is required and action should be taken against these people who hike oil prices, he added.
According to the April 2021 projection of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Bangladesh’s current yearly demand for soybean oil stands at 1.3 million tonnes and that of palm oil at 1.6 million tonnes. USDA projected a rise by another 1 million tonnes in demand in Bangladesh by 2025.
Bangladesh’s per capita oil and fat consumption saw nearly 100% growth in eight years, from 11.8 grams in 2013 to 22 grams this year, said the USDA.
With 800,000 tonnes of yearly crude soybean oil imports, Bangladesh stands behind only India and China among top oil and oilseed importing countries. Its main source country of soybean is the US, while over 90% of its soybean oil imports come from Argentina and Brazil.
Two countries -- Indonesia (80%) and Malaysia (20%) -- cater to the whole yearly import of palm oil for Bangladesh.